MDP Primary, Hospital Project, Bar Exam

Friday, January 27

Campaigning for the Maldivian Democratic Party’s primary concluded with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed drawing large crowds of supporters for final gatherings.

At his rally in Hulhumalé, President Solih expressed confidence of winning the MDP ticket and appealed for unity after the internal election. Nasheed led hundreds of supporters in a march across the main streets of the capital Malé. Both events ended with a prayer for victory.

The estranged childhood friends made final pitches to the MDP’s 57,255 voters during closing rallies on Thursday night. At a well-attended rally in the MDP stronghold of Addu City, President Solih reiterated his argument as the only candidate who could secure the backing of smaller parties in order to win 50% of the vote, warning that the MDP would lose without coalition partners.

At his final rally in Malé’s artificial beach, Nasheed characterised the coalition government as alien to the MDP’s ideology and founding principles. In a speech with music and chanting in the backdrop, the former president listed his key pledges, including providing a housing benefit for low-income families, facilitating value-added exports to increase fisheries income, expanding guesthouse tourism and reducing the role of government companies to encourage private sector growth.

Voting was due to begin nationwide at the time of publication on Saturday morning (28 January).

Roundup of campaign rhetoric and new developments that made headlines during the week:

  • Nasheed’s campaign alleged attempts to bribe voters and rig the election with ballot stuffing. The president’s team dismissed the claims as “baseless”.
  • On his last campaign trip, Nasheed travelled to Addu City, the largest voter base outside of Malé. He criticised the failure to develop tourism in the southernmost atoll. He slammed a midnight announcement by the city council to award 500 plots of land as an attempt to influence the election. If elected, Nasheed pledged to transfer the government’s stake in the Gan International Airport to the council and private investors.
  • The economic development ministry announced that the winning bidder of the Gan airport expansion project has been notified of the intention to award the contract, which would transform the airport “into the nexus of economic growth and prosperity for the South of Maldives.” On Friday, the government-owned Fund Management Corporation shared plans for the Hankede integrated tourism project in Addu City.
  • The Housing Development Corporation designated a 1.2 million square feet area in Hulhumalé to award plots of land to native residents of Malé, a key campaign pledge of President Solih. The HDC invited the media to observe the process of clearing the area to set boundaries.
  • In Alif Alif Maalhos, President Solih accused the opposition of interfering in the primary campaign to weaken the MDP ahead of September’s presidential election. The remarks came after MP Hisaan Hussain was harassed by protesters as she travelled to her Thulhaadhoo constituency. According to Hisaan – who worked closely with Nasheed as his legal affairs director and attorney but now supports Solih – 10 opposition supporters from the island tried to assault her and berated her for not standing with Nasheed.

Friday, January 27

Thursday, January 26

Two plastic bags filled with water were thrown from a top floor of a Hiya tower during a ceremony held to open a general practice clinic for the social housing flats in Hulhumalé.

Vice President Faisal Naeem was the chief guest. One of the bags hit a pregnant staff member of the Housing Development Corporation, which condemned the incident as “pre-planned politically motivated act”.

“When police entered the suspected apartment, a child was used as an excuse. This is unacceptable,” the HDC added.

Thursday, January 26

The opposition Progressive Congress Coalition condemned the “disproportionate use of force” by riot police to crack down on a protest. The police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd and arrested two youth activists.

The opposition has been staging nightly protest marches in Malé since former president Abdulla Yameen was sentenced to 11 years in prison on bribery and money laundering charges. More than 100 people were detained from the protests but most were released in less than 24 hours.

The health ministry awarded an MVR1.3 billion (US$84 million) project to a Spanish company to “establish and operationalise fully equipped, climate resilient regional hospital with tertiary level health care services” in Laamu Gan as well as a new 30-bed hospital in Gaaf Dhaal Gadhdhoo.

As part of the contract, Homt España would also procure equipment, train employees and build staff accommodation blocks. The project – the largest hospital development undertaken by the current administration – is reportedly financed by the Deutsche Bank.

On Wednesday, the tender board also awarded projects to build hospitals in Noonu Velidhoo and Thaa Vilufushi with financing from the Kuwait Fund.

Wednesday, January 25

The public will have access to the Boahura surf break despite plans to develop a resort on Boahura, an uninhabited island in the lagoon of Meemu Muli, the tourism ministry assured, after the surfing community expressed concern over the potential loss of “one of the most precious” locations in the country.

The surf breaks will not be within the boundary of Boahura when the island is leased, the tourism ministry explained in a press release. Consultations with stakeholders are ongoing to formulate a site management plan for the use of the surf points by both tourists and local surfers, it added.

Boahura was among 14 islands and lagoons offered for resort development this week. “Access to Boahura is to be maintained and arranged through the inhabited island of Muli in Mulaku Atoll,” the bid announcement stated, adding that an agreement for the purpose would have to be signed between the resort operator and the Muli island council. Land reclamation would not be permitted, according to the invitation for bids.

Wednesday, January 25

Tuesday, January 24

The Environment Protection Agency imposed the maximum fine of MVR100 million (US$6.4 million) on the Dubai-based shipping company Middle East Marine LLC for damages caused to the Vaavedhdhifaru reef in Kaafu Atoll due to the grounding of its barge AM AAGAM and tug boat AM ALPIT.

A survey conducted in August after the vessels were re-floated found extensive damages to a 3,926 square metre area of the coral reef.

Tuesday, January 24

The Bank of Maldives acted unlawfully to deactivate the accounts of former MP Alhan Fahmy’s King’s Capital Holding last year, the civil court ruled, paving the way for the company to seek compensation. The bank did not obtain a court order as required by the anti-money laundering law to withhold funds, the judge noted.

Alhan‘s King’s Forex Trading is accused of illegally setting up an investment scheme and collecting funds from hundreds of people with the promise of high returns, many of whom lost their investment. The police searched the former lawmaker’s home and office and confiscated his phone earlier this month.

The Bank of Maldives froze the company’s account in March last year after the central bank warned of Ponzi schemes where earlier investors are paid with money from new investors.

The civil court ordered F- Tech Solutions to pay MVR13.1 million (US$849,500) to the health ministry over breach of a 2010 contract to supply medical consumables and laboratory equipment for Malé and regional hospitals.

An audit found that the local company doctored invoices and delivery notes and forged signatures to collect payment on MVR11.8 million worth of goods that were never supplied to the health ministry, which sued in August 2019 to recover the funds in addition to MVR1.2 million in liquidated damages.

The judgment was delivered in absentia. The court was unable to deliver notices as the company’s office no longer existed at the listed address.

Monday, January 23

A garbage collector who defecated outside an apartment door was suspended by the Waste Management Corporation, pending an investigation. The incident was captured on security camera footage.

Monday, January 23

The Maldives announced support for India’s bid for a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council. The election for the 2028-2029 term is scheduled to be held during the the UN General Assembly’s session in June 2027.

“The decision to support India was taken following the visit undertaken by the Minister of External Affairs of India, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, from 18-19 January 2023 to the Maldives,” the foreign ministry said.

The Maldives condemned “the abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran” by the leader of Sweden’s far-right political party on 21 January. Rasmus Paludan set fire to a copy of the Quran during a demonstration in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

“Despite the progress made in building bridges of understanding and social cohesion, such acts of Islamophobia undermines all efforts to uphold the values of tolerance and coexistence, only serving to exacerbate hatred and extremism in our societies,” the foreign ministry said.

The Kudagiri picnic island developed for residents of the capital will officially open in February, the Housing Development Corporation told the media. The artificial island – which was developed through reclamation of a lagoon near Malé – was previously scheduled to open in July 2022 and then November 2022.

HDC is planning to launch a mobile app for booking trips. Kudagiri can be reached in 15 minutes by speedboat from Malé or Hulhumalé.

Sunday, January 22

The Environment Protection Agency penalised the Radisson Blu resort with an MVR28 million (US$1.8 million) fine for building a jetty in July before the completion of the environment impact assessment process. A 1,055 square metre area was dug and 1,582 code metres of sand were burrowed to develop a 60-metre harbour. The sand was piled up behind the quay wall.

The EPA’s approval of environment impact assessment reports prepared by independent consultants is required to carry out projects such as coastal protection or land reclamation.

Sunday, January 22

68% of examinees who sat for the country’s inaugural bar exam passed the test, according to the Bar Council, which started to issue results.

The top achievers included graduates of the Maldives National University, University of London and Villa College.

The new lawyers will be formally licensed to practice law after passing a licensing exam scheduled for 20 February.

Saturday, January 21

Fishermen caught a six-foot crocodile near Hoarafushi in the northernmost atoll. The coastguard set the crocodile free about 45 nautical miles west of the island.

Coastguard sailors caught a 14-foot crocodile near Bolidhuffaru, an uninhabited island in Kaafu Atoll, earlier this month. Saltwater crocodiles are not native to the Maldives and sightings are very rare.

Saturday, January 21

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s candidate won a by-election for a vacant seat on the Haa Alif Thuraakunu island council. Fathmath Shaufa beat an independent candidate by 237 votes to 203 votes.